On the north-western edge of Edinburgh is the remains of what was once a glittering country pile estate, a high-status property with lands and outbuildings housing a wealthy local family.
Today the former Cammo Estate is mostly overgrown and ruined, although it is kept and maintained by Edinburgh City Council, and is a popular spot for dog walkers to stretch their pooches' legs, and for children to explore and exercise their imaginations.
An orangery was built, for the cultivation of oranges and other fruits from warmer climates than Scotland, and a Pinetum to grow and display a collection of conifers from around the world.
Stables and a carriage house provided the lodgings for the hoses and staff who ran the transport for the family and visitors, and a piggery was built for the pigs who was raised as livestock on the estate.
South of the estate a large water tower was built to provide fresh water to the property.
The estate fell into disuse and passed into the care of the National Trust in the 1970s.
It is thought that the estate, and its once grand family house, provided an inspiration to the author Robert Louis Stevenson, who used the setting in his novel Kidnapped, which also featured other nearby locations such as Corstorphine Hill and the waterfront at Cramond.
Estates such as Cammo - whose name probably derived from an old term for 'bend in the river' - help to give Edinburgh some of its unique character, and provide visitors and locals with a unique glimpse in the culture and heritage of the city's past.
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Here's my three hotspot factoids for this month! The photo is taken from the eastern side of Princes Street Gardens, looking south towards the Old Town.
The silhouette of the Old Town, with all its rooftops and windows and distinctive buildings, is one of my all-time favourite views. And here's three of the most prominent structures that you can see from Princes Street...
The Bank of Scotland building was formerly the headquarters of the organisation. Founded just a year after the Bank of England, in 1695, the building at the top of the Mound (on what became Bank Street) has been here since 1806. At the top of the building is a statue of the Greek goddess Nike, traditionally the winged goddess of victory. (Due to Edinburgh's tendency toward high winds, our Nike is wing-less!)
The Hub is instantly recognisable on the city's skyline. Built as St John's Highland Tolbooth Church in the 1840s, the building today houses the administrative offices (and ticket office, and performance spaces, and cafe) of the Edinburgh International Festival. The spire is the tallest church spire in the city, and the cross is the highest point in the city - higher than the flagpole at Edinburgh Castle!
The two towers of Edinburgh University's New College today houses the school of divinity, and is also the meeting place for the Church of Scotland's annual General Assembly. Built on a central alignment with the Hub, from a distance it can appear as part of the same building - in fact Castlehill runs between the two structures.
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In a city so packed with literary figures, influences and associations that it became the world's first UNESCO City of Literature, one of Edinburgh's most famous authors remains almost as famous now as during his own lifetime - thanks to the intervention of film and television, possibly more so.
Arthur Conan Doyle was born in the city on this day, 22 May, 1859. The building where he was born was on Picardy Place at the east end of Queen Street in the New town. Although the row of houses were demolished during the 1960s, the approximate location is marked by a statue of Doyle's greatest creation, Sherlock Holmes.
Scotland plays little part in the Holmes stories, most which were set in London, or rural locations in England, and so it is no surprise that comparatively few readers associate Doyle with Edinburgh. Growing up here as a young man, he enrolled at the University of Edinburgh's medical school, where he fell under the influence of the man who would inspire fiction's most famous detective.
Dr Joseph Bell was a tutor at the school, famed for his adherence to principles of observation and logical deduction for making his medical diagnoses. After the first Sherlock Holmes story - A Study in Scarlet - appeared in 1886, the similarity between Holmes and Bell was so clear that Robert Louis Stevenson, who had also studied under Bell, wrote to Doyle from his home in Samoa: "My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. ... can this be my old friend Joe Bell?"
Since his creation, Holmes has acquired the Guinness World Record for being the most portrayed movie character in cinematic history.
Curiously, although he is often referred to as Conan Doyle, on his baptismal record from St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, which still stands near the site of his birth on Picardy Place, Conan is recorded as one of the boy's two middle names (the other being Ignatius...). In many library and reference indexes he is listed correctly by his surname alone; Doyle, A.C.
Among his non-literary interests, Doyle was also a keen sportsman, playing cricket alongside fellow authors JM Barrie and AA Milne, as well as for the Marylebone Cricket Club.
Doyle died at his home in Sussex, England, in 1930. The statue of Sherlock Holmes was unveiled in the 1990s, and visitors can still enjoy a drink or a meal at the Conan Doyle pub, near the site of his birth - having a drinking hole named after you is one of the greatest forms of tribute Scotland can offer its famous sons and daughters.
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Like Rome, Edinburgh's city centre is traditionally said to have been built on seven hills - many of them having been lost or disguised by building and development in the past 300 years (Moultray's Hill, for example, was approximately under where Multrees Walk in the New Town is today...). These hills were specifically in the area covered by the centre of the city - outlying hills, such as Blackford and Corstorphine, were not counted in the original seven.
Between these hills, or peaks of higher ground, the landscape ran in deep ravines, the most obvious ones the two valleys carved out by glacial action during the last Ice Age. The valley where Princes Street Gardens are today, and the parallel valley south of the Royal Mile, where the Cowgate runs, still divide the city into a series of peaks and troughs, and it was in order to make these troughs easier to navigate that six bridges were built.
Again, these bridges are only the ones immediately within the city centre - the likes of Stockbridge and the Dean Bridge are further out, and weren't integral to navigating the heart of the city.
Here are the six bridges which connect Edinburgh's city centre - how many of them will you cross (perhaps unknowingly!) during your visit?
Probably the most obvious one, North Bridge runs over the top of Waverley Station, and was originally the main access road between the Old and the New Towns. The current bridge is the third to have been built on this site after previous versions either collapsed or were in need of improvement.
A continuation of North Bridge to the other side of the Royal Mile, South Bridge crosses the Cowgate, and has only one of its original 21 arches visible today. The others were concealed by the buildings which were put up alongside the bridge after it was built in the 1760s.
GEORGE IV BRIDGE
Another elevated roadway, also crossing the Cowgate, but from the Lawnmarket section of the Royal Mile. Two arches of the bridge remain externally visible, and during the summer the big Underbelly festival venue takes audiences into the underside of the arches for its performance spaces.
Crossing the ravine where Calton Road used to run through the valley where Waverley Station is today, the Regent Bridge connected Princes Street to the newly developed areas of Regent Road and (today) St Andrew's House. The single span is high and narrow, with commemorative columns at the top, and was opened in 1819.
Beneath Edinburgh Castle, at the base of the rock, is the curiously low, wide span of the King's Bridge, running over the top of King's Stables Road. Opened in 1831, this bridge was integral to the construction of Johnston Terrace, providing an accessible route to the top of the Royal Mile for the first time in Edinburgh's history.
Finally, Waverley Bridge, connecting the bottom of Cockburn Street to Princes Street, provides access to the railway station, and forms the second access bridge across the northern glacial valley.
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The creative folks at Jury's Inn Hotels have created a short comic highlighting some of the historical highlights of Glasgow and Edinburgh - it's a fun canter through some of Scotland's influential moments in history!
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Trinity College Kirk was founded in 1460, and stood in the village of Calton, just outside the boundaries of the old city of Edinburgh.
Calton nestled in the valley between the Royal Mile and Calton Hill - the site today is occupied by Waverley Station, and it's hard to imagine that a large settlement once existed in this area.
As the railway station needed to grow to accommodate the increased traffic of visitors and businessmen drawn to the city in the 1840s, and in a not-so-rare act of cultural annihilation, it was decided that the village of Calton would be demolished to create space for the new, improved railway station. At one time the city's botanical garden had been located in the valley where Calton sat, before itself moving further out to town (and later again to its current site at Inverleith).
As the church at the centre of Calton was a historically significant structure, established by Mary of Gueldres, wife of King James II, the city council was paid £16,000 by the North British Railway Company (who operated the main lines into the station) to handle the church's preservation. The decorative altar from the church, a series of panels painted by Flemish artist Hugo van de Goes, were remarkable for surviving the Reformation in 1560, and were removed from the church before its demolition. Today the four panels can be seen in the National Galleries of Scotland.
And so in 1848 the church was deconstructed, the stones dismantled and individually numbered - the plan was to reconstruct the church a little later in another location. And so one of the city's biggest jigsaw puzzles came to be!
The stones of Trinity College Kirk were stacked at the side of the valley during the construction of the new station, and that's where the church remained for the next twenty years. In the 1870s, when they eventually decided to reconstruct the historic church, they discovered - quel surprise - not all the original stonework was where it had been left. In the intervening decades, it is thought that significant quantities of the stone had been 'borrowed' and used in the construction of myriad other buildings.
And so, when they came to reconstruct the church on Chalmers Close, behind the modern Jury's Inn Hotel, the builders only had enough stone to construct a truncated version of the original church.
Today Trinity Apse, as it is known, still stands on the lane between Jeffrey Street and the Royal Mile, and formerly was used as the city's brass rubbing centre. Visitors passing the building can appreciate the strange, foreshortened dimensions of the church, and close examination shows the numbers on some of the stones, a leftover from the original deconstruction project.
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In Edinburgh's West Princes Street Gardens you'll find the Ross Fountain, a structure which has featured heavily in some of the iconic imagery of Edinburgh over the years - guide books and postcards are often found with a photograph of the view up to Edinburgh Castle from the Gardens, with this fountain in the foreground.
On images where the fountain is flowing with water, you can be assured that the image is either old, or has been heavily photoshopped! The fountain hasn't flowed much since its last restoration effort in 2001, which is a shame given how prominent the fountain's location is.
The fountain itself had been cast in iron at a foundry outside Paris in the 1860s. It was produced for an exhibition of modern art, technology and invention in London, in 1862. It was whilst visiting the exhibition that a local man, a gunsmith named Daniel Ross, saw the fountain and bought it on a moment of impulse.
He gifted it to the city of Edinburgh, but unfortunately Edinburgh didn't really want it! They style of the fountain - bathing nymphs, with bared flesh and voluptuous figures - wasn't entirely in keeping with public mores at the time, and it was not considered an especially attractive construction by the Victorian locals.
It was shipped up from London in 122 pieces, and then sat in storage for a decade while the city council considered where they were going to put it. Eventually the site in West Princes Street Gardens was agreed, and the fountain was re-erected in this popoular public space.
There was a degree of controversy around the fountain from the moment it was unveiled in 1872 - the minister and congregation of St Cuthbert's Church, which backs directly onto the Gardens, objected to the fountain on the grounds that it was hardly in keeping with the tone of the area. The site of St Cuthbert's is the oldest continually used site of worship in the city, believed to have been founded by Cuthbert himself in the seventh century. For such sacred space to be sullied by such a gaudy and tasteless monument was considered an outrage.
However, the fountain was never moved, and has remained in its iconic vantage point, beneath the northern ramparts of Edinburgh Castle, ever since.
Because of the method of its construction, and its delayed reassembly after 10 years in storage, the fountain no longer holds its water, and has been turned off for the last few years whilst funding for extensive internal preservation and restoration can be raised.
Perhaps one day the fountain will flow again,and visitors will be able to enjoy the spectacle as enjoyed by Daniel Ross, that day in London 150 years ago.
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Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth Davies, an adopted native of Edinburgh since 1998...